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I have read and continue to hear a number of issues about the Getrag Transmission that is coming in the 2008 Smart. What I know is if any of our members have had issues while test driving this vehicle where the car seems to pop out of gear in cornering.

If so, under what driving condition did this take place? Did your Smart USA rep address this issue?
 

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I haven't heard any issues about the new transmission. Aren't all the testers still 07's with the 6 speed tranny?
 

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Aren't all the testers still 07's with the 6 speed tranny?
If by testers you mean the street smart tour cars, they are 08 models and have the new 5-speed Getrag gearbox. Personally I have not heard or read anything about them popping out of gear, but that doesn't mean it ain't so...
 

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I drove two different cars at two different street smart tours and neither one had any problem with popping out of gear. I drove both cars in manual mode.

While I had no problem driving the car, I have a feeling that the Getrag gearbox combined the the automated shift is going to cause Smart a lot of headaches. A lot of US drivers will not like how the gearbox operates.
 
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A lot of U.S. drivers will like it. I like it because it is different.
 

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Jumping Out Of Gear

If there is a problem I think it lies in misunderstanding that the transmission is NOT an automatic in the sense of a common torque converter "slush box." It is a geared transmission that is electric servo-clutched vice foot-clutched. It just happens to have an automated feature that can move it between gears without operating the shift lever. It has been reported numerous times that the transmission performs better if one lifts the accelerator between shifts, just like is done with a foot-cluched box.

It is possible that when staying hard on the accelerator through the shifting that the internal pressure and friction between the gears trying to mesh can result in incomplete gear engagement. Standard shift drivers will recognize this; strictly auto drivers will never have experienced it.
 

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If there is a problem I think it lies in misunderstanding that the transmission is NOT an automatic in the sense of a common torque converter "slush box." It is a geared transmission that is electric servo-clutched vice foot-clutched. It just happens to have an automated feature that can move it between gears without operating the shift lever. It has been reported numerous times that the transmission performs better if one lifts the accelerator between shifts, just like is done with a foot-cluched box.

It is possible that when staying hard on the accelerator through the shifting that the internal pressure and friction between the gears trying to mesh can result in incomplete gear engagement. Standard shift drivers will recognize this; strictly auto drivers will never have experienced it.
If true. Would'nt it be adviseable to incorperate a small (100ms) delay in gear changes?

Aaron Lephart
 

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The trans actually shifts better if you keep your throttle position steady throughout the shifting process. During the shift the computer is controlling the engine speed, clutch action and transmission. The controls available to the driver, the throttle pedel, and shift lever/paddles are connected to the engine/transmission by wires via the computer (ECU).
The shifts seem painfully slow because there is a conventional dry plate friction clutch that must be released before and engaged after the actual shift. A conventional automatic transmission has a torque converter, fluid drive connection, instead of a clutch.
The smart clutch is operated by an electric motor driven worm gear actuater and the trans is shifted by cam followers in groves cut in an electric motor driven drum.
Again the ECU controls all of these actions and the only thing the driver can control in the manual mode is when this takes place and that is only if he does it within the operating parameters programed into the ECU.
 

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You're welcome SmartBob. There is a great deal of discussion going on about wether or not the American driver will accept this tranmission set up because it is unconventional. In my humble opinion the fact that the smart is so unconventional in so many ways is what gives it it's character and charm. The transmission is part of that package so give it a chance, it grows on you.

If you approach the smart with an open mind, you will come away with a very big smile on your face.:D
 
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Here's something to consider regarding this "automated" manual transmission. The tour cars, European version, have a floor shifter, when pulled to the left engage the +/- capability of the transmission. Pushing it to the right puts the transmission into neutral, right and back engages reverse.

Many Americans rest their right hand on the shifter when driving, making a neutral move very easy. With a regular "H" pattern U.S. manual transmission it is possible to disengage the current gear into a neutral position by moving the shifter toward the neutral position when the engine and tranny are in a "coasting" state. With the Smart tranny, the question is whether resting your hand on the shifter could accidently push the shifter to the right, causing a neutral position.

If they modify the layout for the U.S. with real park and drive positions this will become a non issue. The shifter will be put in a drive position (D) automated mode and be pushed right or left to enter the manual shift mode. With this pattern, the neutral position is removed from the side to side movement of the shifter. My Mini CVT is like this, "D" for normal driving, pushed to the right for the manual +/- gear changing, pulled to the left for normal automatic mode.

I drove the test cars two times on two separate occasions (four separate cars) with no indication of jumping out of gear. I think it is an issue of how to handle the shifter, either in its current configuration, or a modified park / Drive configuration for the U.S. market. Practice, practice, practice... If we could only get our hands on one to practice, practice, practice.. :)
 

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question re transmission use.

I drove one of the smarts at the kansas city stop. I didn't have any trouble getting used to the paddles, although the employee had to remind me not to lift on the accelerator when shifting with the paddles. It was a bit disconcerting with the momentary delay in moving from the dead stop. We were in a very slight incline and when I moved from the brake to the accelerator, it rolled backward and that made me wonder if I should brake with my left foot, or use the old trick of pulling the park brake and releasing when the clutch engages. Also, I was wondering the best way handle slowing to stop. If you're in manual mode, it will still shift down automatically right, in case you forget, at certain presets? So should you let it do it automatically? Or should you use the minus paddle if at all possible? And finally, how does it work when you come to a complete stop? Does the clutch engage? Otherwise I would think it would kill the motor. I'm having a bit of trouble getting my head around the concept of an automated manual.

Oh, and by the way, it was a blast to drive. :) The surprising thing for me was getting in and out of the car. I'm a big guy, carrying too much weight and getting out of my corolla is a bit of effort on the knees, but with the smart, when I swung my legs out of the car, it was really sort of a step down. No problem at all. You really sit higher than you would imagine. Quite surprising.
 

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Hill Assist

chaunceyjb,

The smart has a hill assist feature which can prevent the car from rolling forward or backward on an incline while you move your foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal. To engage this feature, you need to give the brake pedal a decent "squeeze" while stopped on an incline. Just resting your foot on the brake pedal (as we're used to doing with a regular automatic) will not do the trick. Once engaged, the hill assist works very well - it temporarily holds the brakes for the second or so it takes you to get on the gas. I got to try this on my test drive and can vouch for its effectiveness.

You can do your own down changes when slowing for a corner, using the paddle shifter (lots of fun! :)), or you can let the gearbox do its own thing. Left to its own devices the transmission will shift into a lower gear once you get back on the gas. When you come to a complete stop, the gearbox disengages the clutch and selects first gear, whether you're in manual or auto mode, so there's no worry about stalling or accidently starting off again in a higher gear.
 

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Trans.

Is there a problem with the Getrag trans? Yes!

The Trans is being criticized by auto writers across the US. The lastest by
John McElroy, a renowned auto writer for newspapers and on TV. See:

http://autoblog.com/page/4/

The peice is now down a few pages, and is about the top ten North American Car and Truck Awards. (For the upcoming NA Auto Show.)

A2jack
 

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I follow the automotive press pretty closely and there has been a great deal of criticism of the shift quality of the transmission so I watched for it closely in my test drive. The drive was so short I never had a chance to get it out of the fully auto mode. In that mode it seemed ok to me but as short as the drive was it's still an open question to me.
 

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This spring I was in Germany for about 5 weeks. The rental car a MB B-180 that had a auto/manual (no paddles) and I really liked the behavior as I learned how to combine the +/- on the stick with my cornering or "getting on the Autobahn" power/torque demands.

While there, one of the Military Officers I was working with had a 2006 German Smart. He let me use it for a whole day.

The power and torque were surprisingly crisp (light weight car). I was already used to the auto/manual methods so I had zero learning curve. I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with the Smart tranny. It is different and does require a learning curve. Just as a 4 speed shifter on the column would change how a previously "auto only" driver needs to effectively control the vehicle.


Perspective.... I drive a manual shift motorcycle and a GIANT F350 auto trany pickup truck in high speed Texas rural and big city surface streets.... Both vehicles require strict attention to your environment and the behaviors of Everybody around you. Driving the Smart will be no different

In Germany you can see every demographic effectively driving Smart Cars on the Autobahn and in the much denser traffic areas of inner cities.... Two groups stand out; Very young female first time drivers with very little experience and very old German ladies, also with very little experience. They all (driving Smarts) seemed to competently negotiate all the traffic hazards that are present each and every day.

Perspective; Current Motorcycle Safety foundation instructor, Army Safety Center trained defensive Driving instructor.
 

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450 or 451?

Hi A2jack,
Is there a problem with the Getrag trans? Yes!
http://autoblog.com/page/4/
A2jack
The blogger is not specific about which model he drove, 450 or 451? or 2008 US 451 or 2007 European 451?:confused:
In the 2 drive trials I had, Las Vegas and Seattle road shows, I did not notice the hesitation mentioned by the blogger. The drivers for the road show mentioned the 2008 US models will have "4 down" towing as a feature. The 450's and Euro 2007 451 must be towed on a trailer for long distance towing. "4 down" towing suggests the 2008 US transmission will be different from any we have seen so far.
IMHO, the performance of the 450 transmission is an acquired taste. The less you think about it, the better is performs. Patience is a virtue. But... everytime I miss a turn, flip a Uy in 1 1/2 lanes, and get to my destination on time, I forgive the smartie a few bumps and jerks.:cool:
 

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Bad press.

Besmart.

Good input on the four wheel down tow. The RVers will love it too.

I suspect McElroy was driving the Euro Model 451 that we all drove on the tours. If you spot a pix, copy the Lic # as we have photos of all tour cars.

My point here, is not whether we as Smart nuts will buy and drive them we will, but will the general public buy them too? I think not. At least with trans' we drove, and all the bad publicty now ongoing.

My wife and I still are going to buy, and expect our E-mail by next week (Res on 3-22-07). But we are only buying because we love tiny cars and this is the only Kei type car we can buy in th US.

As for learning curve, The first time was a surprise. The second car I set out to duplicate the problem, so I was ready for it. See "Questions on Smart Trans" here, on General Discssions. The post was made right after we got home having driven Three Smarts.

IMO, MB must re-engneer this trans, both hardware and software, before putting this car on sale in the US
.

A2jack
 

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By the "general public" are you referring to the masses? I do not believe this car was conceived for that marketplace given to production capacity in France. So much has been postulated on this and other forums, and understandably so given the painful wait and lack of news. Reality is that none of us have driven or seen a totally USA spec 451. Four were supposedly landed in Baltimore recently. Were they brought in for EPA testing or the tour? who knows. But knowing Penske, I have faith in the end product.
 
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